Based: Dam Neck, Va.
Interior Communications Electrician, Navy SEAL
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: June 25, 2003
Married, 2 children
Hometown: San Diego
High School: Mt. Whitney High (Visalia)
Burial: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Dieg0
Petty Officer First Class
Naval Special Warfare Development Group
June 26, 2003
Retzer was wounded on June 25, 2003, after his convoy was attacked outside of Gardez, Afghanistan. He was transported to Bagram Air Base Hospital, where he died of his wounds on June 26, 2003.
Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor (2)
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)
Good Conduct Medal (2)
National Defense Service Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Retzer was part of a dedicated Naval Special Warfare team fighting the Taliban, a fundamentalist regime that a U.S.-led coalition knocked from power in Afghanistan in 2001, but has continued to conduct guerilla operations, particularly along the Pakistan border. Retzer worked to help ensure al Qaeda terrorists could not train in, nor launch strikes from Afghanistan since their lethal attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.
Retzer graduated from BUD/S in 1994. He distinguished himself as a SEAL operator during combat operations in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2003, earning two Bronze Stars with combat “V” for valor.
On June 25, 2003, Retzer was killed while engaged in a fierce firefight after his convoy was attacked outside of Gardez, Afghanistan. He received gunshot wounds to the head and chest, but lived 24 hours before succumbing to his injuries.
Thomas Retzer is remembered with the greatest respect and gratitude by his fellow SEALs, the Navy, and the nation.
Petty Officer Retzer’s service and sacrifice touched service members of all ages and experience:
A BUD/S student wrote gratefully, “Nothing but the utmost respect for the man and the family behind the man. Thank you for your sacrifice.
A SEAL just graduated wrote the family, “I just wanted to say that in searching for guidance within this job of ours, it is great men like your Tom that the men of the Teams turn to when looking for the way they should do their job.“
A fellow shipmate said Thomas Retzer was “a brave, proud, selfless man, a good husband and loving father,” and that “The sacrifice that he made for our country will not ever be forgotten.”
A Vietnam War veteran stated, “The sacrifices Petty Officer Retzer made and the deeds he performed shall remain alive in our memories for generations to come.
Retzer’s wife praised both her spouse and his fellow SEALs: “I am so proud of my husband and thankful to his very brave and steadfast teammates who continue the mission unseen. Tom was in good company.”
From the Pacific Beacon:
Thomas is survived by his wife, Courtney, his sons; Leif and Owen; his father, James; his mother, Leona, his brothers, James, Justin and Michael; his father and mother-in-law, Thomas and Sandra Wasley; his sister-in-law, Lindsey Wasley; best friends, Jerry and Teresa Shick; and a host of family, friends and teammates. Tom was a consummate friend, husband and father. He was the guy who would stop to change the tire of a stranger in the rain, make a 30-second call from a world away just to tell his wife he loved her, and never missed a chance to read his boys a bedtime story. In his career, Tom was a driven, dedicated professional warrior. But at home, he was a kindhearted, easygoing guy with an infectious belly laugh who enjoyed a good workout, a good beer and really ugly Hawaiian shirts. Tom had an enduring love for his family, his teammates and his country with a profound dedication to protecting the ideals of the American spirit.
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